CLEP Humanities : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth-Century Music

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

Who was the composer who arranged and first conducted the educational musical piece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945)?

Possible Answers:

Benjamin Britten

Dmitri Shostakovich

Sergei Prokofiev

John Ireland

Samuel Barber

Correct answer:

Benjamin Britten

Explanation:

The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra was conceived as a multi-media piece to educate children about orchestra music. Benjamin Britten's adaptation of the work of Henry Purcell, however, showed such great arrangements and inventiveness of instrumentation that it was immensely popular as an orchestral piece and record.

Example Question #2 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

Which of the following musical clefs is highest in pitch?

Possible Answers:

Bass clef

Alto clef

Octave clef

Treble clef

Neutral clef

Correct answer:

Treble clef

Explanation:

In musical notation, a clef indicates where the notes on the staff are placed, based on the clef symbol's position and shape. The three main clefs are, from highest to lowest in pitch, are the treble, alto, and bass clef. A neutral clef and an octave clef both indicate a non-traditional clef, with different emphases than the treble, alto, and bass.

Example Question #3 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

Which of the following is typical instrument to find in a rock 'n' roll band?

Possible Answers:

Lute

Oboe

Harpsichord

Electric bass

Banjo

Correct answer:

Electric bass

Explanation:

Rock 'n' roll developed in the mid-twentieth century as a combination of other genres, such as blues, country, and jazz. Despite its eclectic origins, the music was usually stripped down, featuring limited combos. The typical instrumentation of a rock combo is one or more guitars, electric bass, drums, and occasionally a piano, organ, or horns.

Example Question #4 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

How many strings are on a typical mandolin?

Possible Answers:

Ten

Six

Eight

Five

Four

Correct answer:

Eight

Explanation:

A mandolin is tuned exactly like a violin, but with one key difference. Instead of having one string each tuned to G, D, A, and E, the mandolin has two courses of strings tuned in unison to each of these notes. The mandolin shares this trait with the entire "mando" family, including the mandola and the mandocello.

Example Question #5 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

What is a musical form that features improvisation around short themes in small ensembles?

Possible Answers:

Jazz

Bluegrass

Romantic

Baroque

Modernist

Correct answer:

Jazz

Explanation:

Jazz music developed around New Orleans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Played by small ensembles featuring horns, pianos, and guitars, jazz was developed to have extended dances done with the music as accompaniment. As such, jazz began to promote its performers playing extended improvisations during parts of songs.

Example Question #6 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

Based on the way in which each instrument produces sound, which of the following instruments is most similar to an accordion?

Possible Answers:

Trumpet

Violin

Harmonica

Flute

Guitar

Correct answer:

Harmonica

Explanation:

Although configured and played quite differently, both the accordion and the harmonica produce sound by having air blow over free reeds. While the accordion has buttons to open and close specific reeds, a harmonica player blows over a specific hole to create the desired tone.

Example Question #7 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

Neoclassicism in music is a term reserved for works from which of the following centuries?

Possible Answers:

Sixteenth century

Eighteenth century

Twentieth century

Seventeenth century

Nineteenth century

Correct answer:

Twentieth century

Explanation:

While the term Neoclassicism typically refers to the Enlightenment trends that focused on ancient Greece and Rome, in music the term refers to twentieth-century music that looked back to the "Classical" music of the eighteenth century. The composers Igor Stravinsky and Alfredo Casella were important figures in this movement.

Example Question #8 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

The note "piano" above a clef on a sheet of music indicates that the musician should __________.

Possible Answers:

take a brief pause

play the music slowly

only use a keyboard instrument

play the music briskly

play the music softly

Correct answer:

play the music softly

Explanation:

In musical notation, the note "piano" above a clef indicates that the music should be played softly. Often such a mark, sometimes abbreviated with just a "p," will come in the middle of a piece to indicate a change of volume. The opposite notation is "forte," which indicates that the music should be played loudly.

Example Question #9 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Twentieth Century Music

Philip Glass is a composer most associated with what musical style?

Possible Answers:

Minimalism

Neoclassicism

Postmodernism

Expressionism

Modernism

Correct answer:

Minimalism

Explanation:

Philip Glass was part of a group of composers who used simple motifs that were repeated over steady beats. This music was dubbed "minimalism" by crtics, but also embraced by the figures who founded it, as it expressed their desire to reduce music to its essentials.

Example Question #10 : Twentieth Century Music

On a piano, the black keys indicate __________.

Possible Answers:

droning tones

non-natural notes

lower register notes

shifting notes

higher register notes

Correct answer:

non-natural notes

Explanation:

The eighty-eight notes on a keyboard are produced by pressing white and black keys. The black keys are positioned slightly higher and farther back, as they hold all of the sharp and flat notes on the twelve-tone chromatic scale. This arrangement allows the natural notes to be played more easily, and make the non-natural notes more obvious.

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